HAMILTON — Farmers, industry representatives and media got their first glance inside the new MFA Hamilton Rail Facility with a two-day open house June 20 and 21.
HAMILTON — Farmers, industry representatives and media got their first glance inside the new MFA Hamilton Rail Facility with a two-day open house June 20 and 21. Under construction for the past year, the Rail Facility is MFA’s largest single investment in real dollars in any geographic region. It is a joint venture between MFA Incorporated, a grain marketing and farm supply cooperative, and MFA Oil Company, a farmer-owned energy supply cooperative. Guests at the open house had a chance to hear from company officials, see grain- receiving demonstrations and take tours of the newly completed facility. “As a cooperative, our core purpose is to contribute to the success of both our member- owners and their communities. That has been a constant for over 100 years,” MFA Incorporated CEO Ernie Verslues said. “Our long history is proof that we have constantly reinvented ourselves over time and continued to invest in the future,” he said. “This facility is the latest example of that commitment.” Located on Highway 36 in Caldwell County, the shuttle-loader facility takes advantage of an improved four-lane highway, proximity to north-south traffic on Interstate 35 and direct access to the Union Pacific Railroad. With a rail siding to accommodate a 110-car “shuttle” train, the facility is also known as a “loop-loader” because the track is in a circle connected to the main line. Railroads prefer to load grain via the shuttle method for ease of movement from a point of origin to a destination. Officials say size and efficiency for a growing grain industry are the objectives of the facility, which can move 60,000 bushels per hour as farmers deliver grain. A 110-car shuttle train will hold approximately 420,000 bushels of corn or 380,000 bushels of soybeans and can be loaded in fewer than eight hours. The operation will position MFA to potentially reduce truck traffic by as much as 14 million bushels of grain annually. The facility will provide new efficiencies for MFA Incorporated’s grain division as well as access to large and diverse markets such as exporters, poultry and cattle operations, and other end users of grain in areas that stretch from the Gulf Coast to the West Coast and Mexico. It will benefit farmers in north central Missouri and southern Iowa by providing them a modern, high-speed grain facility to deliver crops and quickly unload during peak seasons. “The grain business, as well as the grain farmer, continue to evolve in Missouri. At MFA, we have to evolve as well,” said Mitch Dawson, MFA Incorporated director of grain operations. “Our new Hamilton shuttle-loader positions us to hit new markets that were not economically feasible before due to freight costs and volume shipment requirements. It shows that MFA is in the grain business for the long haul.” While the Hamilton facility is designed to move grain rather than store it, there are 2 million bushels of permanent grain storage and 1.5 million bushels of temporary storage on site. This can help relieve harvest-time pressure on existing MFA grain-receiving facilities in the region. “There is a lot of grain produced in north central and northwest Missouri, and harvest is a critical time for farmers,” said Adam McIntyre, regional manager for MFA locations in the area. “During high-volume periods, we can move grain from smaller elevators to the shuttle loader to keep local storage capacity available.” The joint venture between MFA Incorporated and MFA Oil Company brings resources and expertise from both cooperatives and a significant investment in local communities. The facility will be operated by MFA Incorporated with seven full-time employees, including Manager David Jones, and offer seasonal part-time jobs as demand grows. “This facility will deliver great value to the farmer-members of both cooperatives, and we are proud to partner with MFA Incorporated in bringing it to fruition,” said Mark Fenner, president and CEO of MFA Oil. “Farmers count on fast, convenient and reliable transportation networks to move their grain, and we are confident the shuttle-loader’s connection to the Union Pacific Railroad will prove to be a prudent investment.” Craig Childs, a 1989 Tina-Avalon High School graduate, is senior vice president of the Agriculture Division of MFA, and was involved in bringing the facility to fruition. He is the son of Ed and Linda Childs, of the Blue Mound area. His parents were on hand for the open house.